Now this is more like it. Picking up only minutes after where the overwrought “LifeDeath” left off, Uncanny #187 finds Claremont much more focused than he’s been in a while. Refining the narrative scope to a single event – the Dire Wraiths’ attack on Forge’s home – Claremont, Romita Jr. and Green deliver a solid action-thriller, starring the tough, hardcore Storm who was so conspicuously absent during the saccharine proceedings of the previous issue.
Another welcome addition to the cast is Naze, who manages in the very first panel of his appearance here to make a stronger impression than Forge has after three months. A weathered, rifle-toting Native shaman and the professed foster father of Forge, Naze is a tough-guy in Claremont’s Wolverine style that would have made a great recurring character. Instead, he is sacrificed – possessed by a Wraith -- as part of Claremont’s narrative trick to give a twist to the end of “Wraithkill.” As presented, the narrative sequence is a little muddy; essentially, Naze is possessed by a Wraith, an event which seems to awaken or somehow garner the attention of some other – even worse -- entity. The exact nature of this menace is not specified, but we do get the impression that it is what Naze and Forge were discussing three issues earlier. This is the being that is rending the fabric of reality, and its harbingers appear in the cliffhanger of Uncanny #187. We’re basically seeing Claremont use a classic writer’s trick – a particularly useful one in serial adventure stories – wherein one villain turns out to be a red herring (here, that’s the Wraiths; they’re even the right color), and the hero is confronted with a greater menace waiting in the wings.
The artistic rendering of the last page’s villains – big, amorphous and black – recalls Bill Sienkiewicz’s artistic interpretation of the Demon Bear in New Mutants 18-20, and we are probably meant to recognize that the same entity is responsible for both threats. Claremont is probably being a bit too vague here – especially considering that he won’t get around to the big reveal until “Fall of the Mutants” in 1987.
Still, despite some of the narrative sloppiness, this is Claremont’s most exciting issue of Uncanny X-Men in quite a while. The directness of the story’s premise – Storm fighting her way through demons to get to the top of Forge’s tower – allows for a lot of fun moments, and Claremont paces the issue well, ratcheting up the tension with controlled regularity so that the sudden appearance of Colossus and Rogue makes for a thrilling and surprising climax (much more so than the last time Claremont used this trick, in issue 184).